Oliver Chang is an illustrator from Hong Kong based in London.
Recently, his online works, in particular “The Goddess of Democracy” (featured image, detail) have attracted the attention of users, thanks to his delicate trait, conveying at the same time a message of unity and resolute determination.
I’m inspired by early 20th-century commercial art, orientalism and my childhood in Hong Kong.
I’m influenced by the painters who are great at telling stories with their work, like Marc Davis, John William Waterhouse, Leyendecker, Rackham, and Rockwell, to name a few.
What is your artistic background?
I studied illustration at the university and wanted to be a concept artist for movies/video games due to a passion for storytelling.
Having lived most of my life in Hong Kong, I feel like there are so many beautiful stories in our heritage that are being eroded or lost altogether.
I hope to bring some of that back to the light, using imageries that can inspire others, the same way many works of art from other cultures had inspired me before.
How did you come up with the idea of “Goddess of Democracy”? Who is the “Goddess of Democracy?”
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With “Goddess of Democracy”, I did the painting after feeling rather helpless.
I live in the UK and not being able to attend the protests myself had induced a sense of guilt, so I wanted to do something to help in other ways.
The Goddess was a syncretic symbol originally created for the Tiananmen Square Protest in 89.
Students erected her statue as the rally was losing momentum, and she was intended to lift the spirit and induce a sense of hope and unity, which I thought is exactly what HK needs right now.
I’ve also always been fascinated by goddesses in general and their metaphysical powers, they feature quite frequently in my work.
Finally, I feel like one of the most important things we can do now is to spread international awareness of what’s happening in Hong Kong, and what better way to do so than making posters?
Do the color palette has a symbolic meaning?
I picked a pretty straightforward palette, yellow for the Yellow Ribbons, which protestors came to identify themselves with after the Umbrella Movement in 2014.
Blue for the Blue Ribbons, who are pro-government and the police.
The Goddess’s white dress symbolizes the Bauhinia, an emblem of Hong Kong, the white version of which has become a flag for the yellow Ribbons, which symbolizes Hong Kong on its own without the Red that is China, and also a color of grief, to mourn the loss of our democratic independence.
What do think about what’s going on in Hong Kong? Are you afraid?
I’m afraid for the way things are escalating in Hong Kong, violence is never the answer but with strong emotions and the chaos that ensues I fear things can get out of hand.
Our prospect has been looking bleak for a while, but recent incidences have really demonstrated the amazing tenacity, unity, and integrity of the Hong Kong people, and I have never been so proud to count myself as one of them.
CHINA-UNDERGROUND. Matteo Damiani is an Italian sinologist, photographer, author and motion designer. Matteo lived and worked for ten years in China. Founder of CinaOggi.it and China-underground.com.